I recently bought an Adaptec 39320 SCSI card from ebay so I could connect a tape drive to my VMware ESXi server. What arrived was a Dell-branded 39320 (model ASC-39320/DELL), which I didn’t think would be a problem (famous last words…). I installed the card, and the Adaptec BIOS picked up the tape drive during boot as expected. However, ESXi refused to recognise the card or the tape drive, even after multiple reboots and re-scans of the storage devices. A quick google search gave me the answer straight away – I needed to disable HostRAID on the SCSI card in order to put the 39320 in “plain old SCSI mode”. No problems – or so I thought…

When I went into the SCSI BIOS, the option to disable HostRAID was missing! It turns out that Dell removed the option to disable HostRAID on this card with their OEM firmware – meaning it would never work with ESXi :( After a bit of googling I found a forum post (in German) that described how to re-flash the Dell card to turn it back into a regular Adaptec 39320 card. Some kind soul on the forum provided me with the files I needed, and it worked :)

I went back and took some pictures so I can describe the process and also provide the files needed. You will need a floppy disc; you can either use this image file to automatically make a bootable floppy using WinImage, or if you already have a bootable floppy you can just download the files you need and put them on the floppy.

The first step is to boot your machine from the floppy disc, and the SCSI utility should start automatically:

Press enter on one of the SCSI channels (it doesn't matter which one)

Press enter on one of the SCSI channels (it doesn't matter which one)

The next step is to back up the SEEPROM (in case this process doesn’t work):

Navigate to "Seeprom" and press enter

Navigate to "Seeprom" and press enter

Highlight "Save the SEEPROM to a file" and press enter

Highlight "Save the SEEPROM to a file" and press enter

Give the SEEPROM backup a name (I used "sedell") and press enter

Give the SEEPROM backup a name (I used "sedell") and press enter

After a few seconds you should get a success message

After a few seconds you should get a success message

The next step is to back up the BIOS:

Navigate to "Flash" and press enter

Navigate to "Flash" and press enter

Highlight "Save the BIOS to a file" and press enter

Highlight "Save the BIOS to a file" and press enter

Give the BIOS backup a name (I used "dellbios.bin") and press enter

Give the BIOS backup a name (I used "dellbios.bin") and press enter

After a few moments you should get a success message

After a few moments you should get a success message

Next, we write the new SEEPROM:

Navigate to "Update the SEEPROM with a file image" and press enter

Navigate to "Update the SEEPROM with a file image" and press enter

After a few moments you should get prompted to select the SEEPROM file - choose the "SE39320" file and press enter

After a few moments you should get prompted to select the SEEPROM file - choose the "SE39320" file and press enter

After a few moments you should get a success message

After a few moments you should get a success message

Now we need to reboot the computer so that the new SEEPROM takes effect. Boot from the floppy disc again, and it’s time to update the BIOS:

Navigate to "Update the BIOS with a file image" and press enter

Navigate to "Update the BIOS with a file image" and press enter

After a few moments you'll see the file selection list again - choose the "39ar4300.bin" file and press enter

After a few moments you'll see the file selection list again - choose the "39ar4300.bin" file and press enter

After a couple of minutes you should get a success message

After a couple of minutes you should get a success message

Exit the SCSI utility, remove the floppy disc and reboot – your card should now appear as an Adaptec 39320! You can now disable HostRAID by pressing CTRL-A and then:

Select the channel that your SCSI device is connected to and press enter

Select the channel that your SCSI device is connected to and press enter

Press enter on "Configure/View SCSI controller settings"

Press enter on "Configure/View SCSI controller settings"

Navigate to HostRAID, press enter and choose "Disabled"

Navigate to HostRAID, press enter and choose "Disabled"

Exit the utility and you now have a “vanilla” Adaptec 39320 SCSI card :)

NB: I take no responsibility for the success or failure of this process. It worked for me (and many others), but your mileage may vary :) If you took a backup of the files as directed, you should be able to recover your card, but I make no promises as I’m not an Adaptec engineer!